Silent Night.

So the other night a friend of mine let me go with him to the Make A Wish dinner at the mysterious 'Club 33' at Disneyland.  I could do a whole blog series on the evening-- from pictures with Mickey to the 5 course meal and the unbelievable company and inspiring cause.

But the one thing I want to share now is how the night ended.  The last course was served at 10:30pm (I had salmon-- I can still taste it).  We walked out of the club around 11:30pm.  By this time the park had been closed for hours.  Everyone else was waiting for an escort from the park to lead us to the exit.  But my friend looks at me, and with a grin that is one part innocent and one part impish he said, "Let's find our own way out."

So we spent a bit of time walking through Disneyland park-- with all the lights on-- by ourselves.  The flames of the Tiki Room were on.  The Magic Kingdom was all lit up.  Main Street was open.

And all was silent.

The Kingdom was alive...but still.  Frozen in a warm peace, with just the sounds of our footsteps and occasional murmurs of conversation lifting into the brisk night sky.

So, one of my favorite authors is Frederick Buechner.  Any list of the 20th Century's greatest writers has Frederick's name on it.  He's kind of the male equivalent of Flannery O'Conner.  In his book, "Telling the Truth" he writes about silence as it relates to truth:

"[Truth] is the television news, but with the sound turned off.  There are no words to explain it or explain it away, no words to cushion or sharpen the shock of it, no definition given to dispose of it with such as a fire, a battle, a strike, a treaty, a beauty, an accident.  Just the thing itself, life itself, or as much of it as the screen can hold, flickering away in the dark of a room.

A man is making a speech outside on the flight of stone steps with one fist going up and down, his lips moving, a single wisp of hair lifted up by the breeze like a feather, and there is a crowd watching him or not watching him as the spirit moves them or fails to move them.  They are black and white, men and women, and even some of the ones who are watching him seem to have their eyes turned inwards as though they are watching something else inside, listening to some other voice.  

Somewhere else jerry-built houses lie in ruin, and a fat woman in a Mother Hubbard stands in what was once a doorway with a cat in her arms, behind her a man in a T-shirt with a caved-in mouth.  A beautiful young woman in a long dress sits down at a piano, and a pair of men carrying a body on a stretcher between them hot foot it down a city street in a running crouch while from high windows snipers' bullets fly out silent as a dream.  A great ship cuts through the water with many flags.  A whole mountainside is awash with flame.  A girl in a picture hat raises a pair of binoculars to her eyes.

Truth itself cannot be stated.  Truth simply is, and is what is, the good with the bad, the joy with the despair, the presence and the absence of God..."

I think this is why I like silence so much, why I used to go on walks in the nearby park when it was snowing outside when I was in college.  The crunch of snow under my feet and the distinct sound of silent snowfall.

Silence captures a moment and can-- for some-- make life feel more present.

This holiday season go on a walk.  Find someplace quiet.  Leave the ipods, radios, ambiance and company (if you can stand it) behind and be alone with Life.  It is happening, always.  The good and the bad.  The joy and despair.  The presence and absence of God.

That night, my friend didn't know, but I had always wanted to explore the Disney Park when it was empty.  Walt used to do that often before the park opened in the morning.  I think he liked the silence as well.

So while we were at Club 33 to celebrate an organization that made wishes come true for others, being there with my friend made a wish come true for me.

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